Go to contents

[Editorial] Ratification of KORUS FTA and Missing Leadership

[Editorial] Ratification of KORUS FTA and Missing Leadership

Posted January. 30, 2008 03:29,   


In his final State of the Union Address, United States President George W. Bush called on the Congress for early passage of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with South Korea. Citing the KORUS FTA as the most meaningful achievement for the past 15 years, President Bush stressed that it would strengthen the half-a-century trans-Pacific alliance. Despite President Bush’s appeal, the Democrat-controlled U.S. Congress suggested South Korea’s unconditional opening of the beef market and a renegotiation on the terms of the agreement concerning the American car as the prior conditions for the free trade agreement, casting a cloud over unclear outcome.

President Roh pushed ahead with the trade pact, repeatedly emphasizing that the free trade agreement will play a role as a new momentum for South Korea to take a step forward to become an advanced country, and signed the agreement against all odds. However, he didn’t take more proactive stance in ratifying the KORUS FTA as his term of office is slated to end in February. With less than a month away from the end of his term, Roh held an urgent press conference on Monday to criticize the incoming Lee Myung-bak administration’s plan to reshuffle the government organizational structure. He, however, never mentioned the agreement. We cannot brush away the impression that what is consuming him now is not the future of our nation, but the continuation of the power by his hand-picked men.

To spur the American counterpart, it is necessary to pass the ratification during the extra session of the National Assembly in February. However, persuading the lawmakers from rural districts is expected to be face disturbances due to the upcoming general elections in April.

It is a pity that the political leaders failed to display their leadership when confronted with tantalizing problems. Sohn Hak-kyu, the leader of the majority United New Democratic Party (UNDP), promised President-elect Lee to pass the agreement at the earliest time possible. When the free trade agreement was completed in April 2007, Sohn welcomed it more than anyone else. But it was a mere lip service. Sohn said yesterday in his address that he didn’t mention anything about the ratification of the KORUS FTA.

South Koreans need a leader who can overcome both individual and partisan interests in handling grave national matters which will determine the future of the nation. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who contributed to regaining of the British glory, lead the nation while urging dithering politicians to take a step back if one wishes to refrain from facing crises. Wish we could have a leader like her!